The Center for Wellness The College of New Rochelle, New Rochelle, New York, USA
55,000 GSF / Occupancy May 2008
2000 seat gymnasium and convocation center
200 spectator seat 6 lane competition pool/natatorium
Holistic meditation room
Nursing and health services classroom
Outdoor contemplation garden and chapel
24 million construction
After nearly 40 years, the College of New Rochelle decided to add a new building to the campus in celebration of its centennial. The Center for Wellness houses athletic programs, physical education programs, and the Department of Nursing academic programs. Most important to the College is to create a facility that is more than a recreation center: It is an expression of their holistic approach to human wellness that educates about the body, the mind, and the spirit. To address this important goal, the team designed a Center for Wellness that meets all the physical requirements of an NCAA athletic facility and through merging landscape and building with natural materials and daylight creates a spiritual and intellectual experience that is sustainable and achieves a LEED Silver rating.
The Center for Wellness is conceived as a paradisiacal garden- a re-created Eden in the midst of the urban distractions of metropolitan New York, where one goes to rejuvenate the body, mind and spirit. Our architectural approach merges the relationship between building and landscape and in doing so reduces energy consumption and demonstrates good stewardship of the earth. Metaphorically, each of the major program components represents a landform; the natatorium is the grotto; the gymnasium is a rock outcropping and the lobby concourse is a stone crevasse deeply cut into the gently sloping site. Vaulting sandblasted concrete ceiling and walls in the natatorium, convey the imagery of a grotto nestled within the slope of the site. The structural concrete for the project contains recyclable fly ash and blast furnace slag. Skylights set above in the sinuous concrete cavern allow natural day lighting to penetrate to the pool waters below and reduce artificial lighting and energy consumption. A heat recovery system in the natatorium utilizes escaping energy from the surface of the heated pool water and re-circulates it through the double slab vaulting concrete structure. Externally, a roof garden, over the natatorium provides a green landscaped place for contemplation and reflection while reducing heat emission and impervious ground water run off. The exterior locally quarried granite walls of the gymnasium emerge from the site as tectonic rock outcroppings. One portion cantilevers over the sloping site like a rock ledge suspending the holistic meditation room over a grove of mature trees and preserves their mature root structure below. Windows are carved out of the stone walls, like fissures in stone surfaces, and the variegated colored glass recall the stereo metric pattern of the adjacent stone and shade sun glare into the gymnasium and classrooms. Internally the walls of the concourse lobby are made of rough hewn granite and sandblasted concrete. These two walls inflect spatially creating a crevasse- like environment and reinforcing the merging of landscape and building. From the entry level a grand concrete stair flows to the lower level. Interior recyclable materials, such as glass chips in the ground and polished concrete flooring of the lobby and cork and rubber athletic flooring of the fitness center provide sustainable approaches to interior materials that also reinforce the metaphoric ideology behind the facility.